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People's Republic says it will purge self of illicit software

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China is to clamp down on counterfeit software installed on local and central government computers over the next year.

According to Beijing-endorsed news agency Xinhua, officials expect to complete an inspection of the software used by the country’s government departments and agencies by May 2011.

They will conclude their findings in October next year, according to the National Copyright Administration’s flack Yan Xiahong.

"Greater efforts will be made to establish a long-term mechanism comprising funding, procurement, utilisation and asset management for ensuring the use of genuine software among government organs," he said.

The NCA and other People's Republic organisations issued a joint statement way back in 2006 when they demanded that all government agencies and departments should only purchase computers with authorised and genuine software installed.

China’s government organisations spent a total of ¥794m between 2007 and the end of last year on genuine software. But the official figures reported by Xinhua didn’t provide a breakdown of how much of that money went to Microsoft.

However the very fact that an official inspection of China’s central and local government computer systems is underway seems to suggest that the Beijing government has so far failed to tackle the issue of fake software even within its own systems.

Microsoft has of course long complained about the prevalence of software piracy in the People’s Republic.

In June, Big name bosses at 12 tech companies – including Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer – met with US lawmakers and White House officials to complain about illegal software-copying in China.

According to the Business Software Alliance lobby group, 79 per cent of China's computers ran on counterfeit software in 2009.

Concerns have been expressed by the likes of Ballmer and Adobe's Shantanu Narayen about China's planned "indigenous innovation" guidelines on Intellectual Property transfers, complaining that it could unsettle the US economy.

Beyond that, Microsoft had its first litigation win in China when the company was victorious in a court battle against the Shanghai-based corporation Dazhong Insurance in April this year.

The insurance company was found guilty of using unlicensed MS software and was ordered by the court to pay Microsoft damages of ¥2.17m, or $318,000. ®

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